2010-11 extreme weather

Flood plumes and cyclones hit the Great Barrier Reef over the 2010–11 summer, causing flow-on effects to the marine environment and coastal communities.

In the wake of these events, we worked with key partners to implement our Extreme Weather Response Program. This helped target management and industry efforts to support recovery of damaged areas, while building the resilience of the Reef over the longer term.

It also improved our understanding of extreme weather, which is predicted to occur more frequently under climate change.  

Key findings and details on the actions taken to help the Reef cope with the after-effects can be found in our report Extreme Weather and the Great Barrier Reef.  


The summer of 2010–11 was the second wettest on record for Australia.

The unusually intense rainfall caused extensive flooding in many coastal areas of southern Queensland, including several Great Barrier Reef catchments.

A large expanse of the inshore Great Barrier Reef region south of Mackay was exposed to persistent flood plumes from the Fitzroy, Burnett and Mary rivers.


Cyclone Yasi, one of the largest and most powerful cyclones to affect Australia since records began, crossed the Queensland coast near Mission Beach on 3 February 2011.

The coast and adjacent areas of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park were exposed to wind gusts up to 285 kilometres per hour.

The cyclone's wind boundaries were extensive, with gale force winds affecting 26 per cent (89,090 square kilometres) and destructive winds affecting 13 per cent (45,768 square kilometres) of the Marine Park.

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